AUSTIN -- After recovering from the rigors of his
sixth-straight Tour de France victory, Lance Armstrong said Friday
he still plans to race for the yellow jersey again.
"I'll definitely be back to the Tour," Armstrong said shortly
before participating in a parade in his honor in his adopted
hometown of Austin.
In his first public comments in the United States since his July
victory in France, Armstrong again suggested that he could focus on
other races in 2005. He did not say if his next Tour de France
would be next year or 2006.
Armstrong, 32, also suggested that he may not ride beyond 2006.
"I think I have another year or two in me. That's not just a
random number. It's what I think that my body can stand," he said.
Dressed in khaki pants and a black T-shirt emblazoned with his
"Livestrong" motto, Armstrong rode a bicycle in the Friday night
parade through downtown Austin, leading a group of cancer survivors
toward the main stage. Raised in the Dallas suburb of Plano,
Armstrong has made Austin his home for about 15 years.
The city that calls itself the "Live Music Capital of the
World" turned out in yellow for the victory parade and a rock
concert by Robert Earl Keen and the Steve Miller band.
Austin Mayor Will Wynn had asked the expected crowd of 60,000 to
wear the signature color of the Tour de France champion. Most did.
One popular T-shirt read "In Lance We Trust" on the front and
"Texas 6, France 0" on the back.
Huge yellow banners cheered "Welcome Home Lance!" and "You
are invincible" as they hung from streetside balconies or in store
windows. Giant speaker stands for the concert were hidden under
drapes of bright gold.
Armstrong was presented with a Texas flag that flew over the
state Capitol while he rode in France.
"He is a living legend," Gov. Rick Perry shouted to the crowd.
"And a great Texan!"
"This is the greatest hometown in the whole world," Armstrong
told the crowd. "I'm the happiest man here tonight because I'm
Miller gave Armstrong a yellow guitar pick. Armstrong's
girlfriend, rocker Sheryl Crow, danced with his children backstage
during the concert.
Many fans arrived hours early in the 89-degree heat to claim
prime parade-watching real estate along Congress Avenue, the main
"We love Lance," said Julie Hammond, who settled on a street
corner with her three young children. She grabbed a spot about a
block from the giant stage that framed the pink granite state
Capitol in the background.
"He's a great role model for determination," she said.
Armstrong fought back from life-threatening testicular cancer
that had spread to his lungs and brain before winning his first
Tour de France title in 1999. He's been unbeatable in one of the
world's most grueling sports events ever since.
Standing on the stage, Armstrong noted that he was just a few
blocks from where he first announced that he had cancer.
"To think that I'm standing here as someone who made cycling
history ... in 1996 I never would have thought that was possible,"
Armstrong founded the Austin-based Lance Armstrong Foundation
for cancer research and survivor support programs. Many in the
crowd wore the "Livestrong" wrist band sold this summer to raise
money for the foundation. The logo also was spray painted on the
pavement of the parade route.
Armstrong compared his sixth victory to his first back in 1999,
saying he had started thinking about it even before he had wrapped
up a fifth title in 2003.
"This one is special because it's the one that set a record and
made cycling history," he said. "Number seven is not an obsession
like number six was."
Armstrong said he's comfortable with his decision to skip the
Olympics in Greece. Opening ceremonies were Friday.
"I just spent two weeks with my kids," he said. "No